India’s Church, which has seen an increase in attacks in recent years, is at the forefront of the battle against the COVID-19 virus and in caring for the most vulnerable.
India’s President Ram Nath Kovind told a meeting of government representatives on 27 March to call on religious organisations to help with combatting the virus [NDTV].
One day earlier, a network of Christian healthcare providers, representing various denominations, offered Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government the use of its facilities, which includes some 1.000 hospitals around the country [The Hindu].
In a letter, dated 26 March, the Christian Coalition for Health wrote it will work “in the best way possible for the health and wellbeing of the people of this nation, to fight this pandemic,” and suggested ways for further collaboration with the government.
Meanwhile, Christian leaders have urged churches and their members to reach out and care for the poor and marginalised in this time, in particular during the three-week national lockdown ordered by the government to try and control the spread of the virus [ZENIT].
As their workplaces have closed and income has dried up seemingly overnight, millions of migrant workers have started to travel back to their hometowns and villages. Many of them are on foot; there is no public transport, causing another crisis [BBC].
Rolf Zeegers, persecution analyst with Open Doors World Watch Research unit, said he hoped those persecuting the Church would take note and that it would change their attitudes. “The fact that organizations, hospitals, care homes – mostly run by Catholics – are open to anyone affected by the disease is wonderful. Let us hope that the Hindu extremists will be impressed by the efforts of the Christians to help battle the coronavirus.”
Last year India entered, for the first time, the top10 of Open Doors’ World Watch List of 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. The situation has worsened since Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.
Open Doors’ partners around the country have had to stop or suspend many of their activities. They spent last week praying for the people and countries affected by Covid-19. The response was overwhelming: Thousands of Christians from numerous churches joined to pray for the global community, said Pastor Samuel, one of the initiators.
“When our Prime Minister Mr. Modi addressed the nation, he posed a question: ‘In this difficult situation because of the coronavirus, where is the ray of hope? What is the solution?’ We realized this might be the question of many leaders in different countries.”
During this time the Lord revealed to us more that the sign for healing, restoration, vindication, redemption from coronavirus is the sign given at the time of Moses in Number 21- when he lifted the bronze snake and all those who were bitten by snake looked at it and lived. The same sign our Lord has revealed in what he has done for the whole of humanity:Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John.3:14-15).
Today the only sign we see is the sign of the cross that can save the world. We know we need to bring the story of the cross to the people to believe and be saved. The message of the cross is the only sign of redemption for the current situation. And we are called to witness that.”
– Pastor Samuel
Php 2000 could deliver urgent support to a believer isolated by persecution in Covid-19 lockdown.